Synergistic activation of interleukin-12 p35 gene transcription by interferon regulatory factor-1 and interferon consensus sequence-binding protein
Interferon regulatory factor-1 (IRF-1) and interferon consensus sequence-binding protein (ICSBP or IRF-8) are two members of the IRF family of transcription factors that play critical roles in interferon signaling in a wide range of host responses to infection and malignancy. Interleukin-12 (IL-12) is a key factor in the induction of innate resistance and generation of T helper type 1 cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes. In this work, we find that ICSBP-deficient macrophages are highly defective in the production of IL-12. The defect is also observed at the level of IL-12 p40 and p35 mRNA expression. Transcriptional analyses revealed that ICSBP is a potent activator of the IL-12 p35 gene. It acts through a site localized to -226 to -219, named ICSBP-response element (ICSBP-RE), in the human IL-12 p35 promoter through physical association with IRF-1 both in vitro and in vivo. Co-expression of ICSBP and IRF-1 synergistically stimulates the IL-12 p35 promoter activity. Mutations at the ICSBP-RE results in the loss of protein binding as well as transcriptional activation by ICSBP alone or together with IRF-1. This study provides novel mechanistic information on how signals initiated during innate and adaptive immune responses synergize to yield greater IL-12 production and sustained cellular immunity.